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Get To Know: Anu

From: London
For fans of: Gilles Peterson, Nabihah Iqbal, Elysia Crampton

London’s Anu is an infectious kind of personality. Her un-dogmatic DJing and illustrations reflect the world around her in all its diverse glory. On her regular radio shows at both the BBC’s Asian Network and NTS, Anu can rope together stretches of progressive house and UK funky with a Wings track, or rub a vintage Bollywood singer like Asha Bhosle up against Gucci Mane. Nothing’s off limits. Her illustrations similarly comprise scribbled meditations on the people and moods that surround her on the street and the TV; a multimedia diary of Anu’s rich day-to-day.

It started during a brief stint living in Berlin for a fashion/art job, Anu taking on her first ever DJ duties at a work party. Returning to London, she co-founded “people-centric” music magazine Equaliser in 2014 and got shows on digital stations Radar Radio and Balamii, learning how to DJ along the way. Regular parties at Rye Wax in Peckham followed, and after Equaliser’s demise, Anu hooked up with the Rhythm Section crew and dropped out of uni, soon scoring her NTS slot in 2017. It’s been a steady rise since, with Anu now a regular voice on Asian Network — her proudest achievement to date. “The hard work and risks I’ve taken not following a traditional route have paid off,” she tells DJ Mag.

One word you’ll consistently encounter regarding Anu’s sound is ‘varied’.“My favourite DJ sets are the ones where the crowd are open and up for me switching between genres every minute,” she explains. It’s definitely the sound of the heterogeneous and multicultural island-within-an-island that is London — but also of Anu’s outlook on a cultural landscape ripe for exploration. 

It’s been in Anu’s life from the beginning, too. She recently co-hosted an Asian Network slot with her dad, Manoj, revealing his own eclectic taste that backgrounded Anu’s upbringing. While black, brown, and non-white bodies and culture populate both Anu’s illustrated world and her mixes, her own Indian heritage has never been central to who she is — Anu is a Londoner, first and foremost. “I’m still discovering my heritage and what it means to me to this day,” she says. “I resisted being Indian for most of my childhood, so now I’m having to educate myself about it as an adult. That’s probably one of the few regrets I have in life — not embracing my culture from a young age and asking my Dadaji (grandad) all the questions I had.

”DJing and drawing are a constant source of self-discovery for Anu — not just regarding heritage and culture, but with mental health. Since a major mental health deterioration landed her in hospital last year, something switched. “This whole upbeat and positive outlook thing is pretty new for me,” Anu confirms. “I’ve tried to be more positive and put out good energy and... it’s worked! Learning to not blame myself for other people’s actions was a big turning point for me. That allowed me to focus on myself and what makes me happy.” 

Want more? Listen to our recent On Cue mix with Chippy Nonstop.

Tristan Bath is a freelance writer. Follow him onTwitter here.